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December 15: Celebrate Bill of Rights Day!

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online Archives by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the One-Minute Liberty Tip section in Volume 19, No. 23 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Bill of RightsA little-known but very important U.S. holiday is coming up — one far too many Americans are unaware of. It offers libertarians a great chance to inform Americans of our heritage of liberty and the urgent need today to defend that heritage.

December 15 is “Bill of Rights Day” — a day to celebrate, honor and renew support for our precious Bill of Rights.

It was on December 15, 1791 that the Bill of Rights  — the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution — went into effect.

One hundred and fifty years later, in 1941, December 15 was officially proclaimed Bill of Rights Day. States, cities, and counties across America have passed resolutions honoring Bill of Rights day. Some classrooms will hold special Bill of Rights Day classes, and some citizens and organizations will celebrate Bill of Rights Day.

Still, most Americans remain sadly unaware of the date’s significance.

The Bill of Rights is, of course, the great protector of American liberties. It boldly declares that people have certain inalienable rights that government cannot abridge — fundamental rights like freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to keep and bear arms, and more. It also provides procedures for defending those rights — such as fair trials and limits on federal power.

The Bill of Rights doesn’t belong just to America. It has inspired freedom fighters around the world. The Founders viewed their Revolution as the first blow in a struggle to win liberty for all the people of the world. So the Bill of Rights is truly a document for everyone.

Thomas Jefferson made this clear in a letter to James Madison, December 20, 1787: “A bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference.”

Use Bill of Rights Day to teach family, friends, neighbors and others about our precious heritage.

It’s a great time for a letter to the editor discussing the vital importance of our Bill of Rights freedoms, and urging citizens to speak out against current calls to sacrifice liberty for (alleged) security.

With fundamental Bill of Rights freedom under unprecedented assault in recent years, this has never been more important.

To help with that, here’s a short summary of the Bill of Rights, prepared several years ago by students at Liberty Middle School in Ashley, Virginia. (I’ve added just a few words for clarification.) While this condensed version doesn’t have the majesty, depth and detail of the entire document, it is short and easy to understand, and may be useful to you in discussions and letters:

THE BILL OF RIGHTS

1. Freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, right to assemble peaceably, right to petition the government about grievances.
2. Right to keep and bear arms.
3. Citizens do not have to quarter soldiers during peacetime.
4. No unreasonable searches and seizures.
5. Rights of the accused.
6. Right to a fair trial.
7. Right to a trial by jury in civil cases also.
8. No cruel and unusual punishments.
9. Unenumerated rights go to the people.
10. Reserves all powers not given to the national government to the states or
the people.

All Americans should be familiar with their Bill of Rights freedoms. Sadly, numerous surveys indicate most are not. Indeed, as journalist James Bovard has pointed out, a 1991 poll commissioned by the American Bar Association found only 33 percent of Americans surveyed even knew what the Bill of Rights was. In one Gallup poll 70 percent did not know what the First Amendment was or what it dealt with.

As Adam Summers of the Reason Foundation observed in The Libertarian Perspective:

“The Founders must be spinning in their graves. Nearly everything the government does today is unconstitutional under the system they instituted. Governmental powers were expressly limited; individual liberties were not. Now it seems it is the other way around.

“If the Bill of Rights is to regain its meaning, we must rededicate ourselves to the principles it asserts and be mindful that a government powerful enough to give us all we want is powerful enough to take away everything we have.”

Let it begin with you. This December 15 is a great time to remind all Americans that we are, as the National Constitution Center puts it, a nation of “Bill”-ionaires.
Happy Bill of Rights Day!

VIDEO: “Isn’t it Ironic”: Remy Rips Feinstein on Spying

in Liberator Online Archives by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 6 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Okay, admit it: you had to laugh when Senator Diane Feinstein — long one of the Senate’s biggest defenders of NSA spying — was suddenly filled with outrage when she found out that SHE, too, was being spied on. Hey! That’s going too far!

The irony is just too perfect. And who better to point this out than the great liberty-minded comedian Remy?

In this 2-minute video from our friends at Reason TV, Remy updates the Alanis Morissette hit “Isn’t it Ironic” …with Feinstein in mind.

You can read the lyrics here. Laugh along with lines like:

Senator, this may surprise you
and the irony bites
but Congresspeople ain’t the only ones
with 4th Amendment rights

…oh, and we really like the quick dig at the Great Interner, FDR, too.

Share it with friends!

Credits: Written and performed by Remy. Video and animation by Meredith Bragg. Music performed, produced, recorded, mixed and mastered by Ben Karlstrom.

Rand Paul: Who is Running the Government?

in Liberator Online Archives by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 6 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Even U.S. senators are scared of the run-amok NSA, said Rand Paul on March 19 at the University of California at Berkeley.

Paul, currently running at the front of the pack of GOP presidential hopefuls, won applause and standing ovations for his fiery anti-surveillance-state speech, entitled  “The NSA vs. Your Privacy.”

Some excerpts:

Rand Paul“I am here to tell you…that your rights, especially your rights to privacy, [are] under assault. I’m here to tell you that if you own a cell phone, you’re under surveillance. I’m here to tell you that the NSA believes that equal protection means Americans should be spied upon equally —  including Congress. Instead of equal protection, to them, it’s equal disdain. They don’t care if you’re white or black or brown. They care only that everyone must submit to the state. …

“They’re spying on Congress, they’re collecting our data as well. Digest exactly what that means: if Congress is spied upon without their permission, who exactly is in charge of your government?

“I don’t know about you, but that worries me. If the CIA is spying on Congress, who exactly can or will stop them?

“I look into the eyes of senators and I think I see real fear. Maybe it’s just my imagination, but I think I perceive fear of an intelligence community that’s drunk with power, unrepentant, and uninclined to relinquish power. …

“If you have a cell phone you are under surveillance. I believe what you do on your cell phone is none of their damn business. …

“The Fourth Amendment is very clear. Warrants must be issued by a judge. Warrants must be specific to the individual; must have your name on it if they want your records; and a single warrant for millions of Americans’ phone records hardly sounds specific to the individual. Warrants are supposed to be based on evidence or probable cause. …Generalized warrants that don’t name an individual and seek to get millions of records [go] against the very fabric of the Fourth Amendment. ….

“The FISA court is a court where the defendant gets no attorney; the debate is shrouded in secrecy. In the FISA court, the NSA can say whatever they want and they are not cross-examined.

“A secret court is not a real court. We must take a stand and demand an end to the secret courts. …

“The question before us is: Will we live as men and woman, will we cower, and will we give up on our liberty?”

Paul further said he intends to call for a bi-partisan independent select committee, styled after the 1975 Church Committee that investigated intelligence agencies’ abuses of power, to investigate the explosion of recent surveillance state abuses.

There’s much more in the 20-minute speech, which can be seen here, along with a 20-minute follow-up discussion.

They Said It… With Ron Paul, Antonin Scalia And More

in Liberator Online Archives by Advocates HQ Comments are off

TAXATION IS CONFISCATION: “The latest scandal in Jay LenoWashington, of course, is raising questions about the IRS. You know, I have a question. Why is it called the Internal Revenue Service? How is having your money confiscated a service?” — Jay Leno May 23, 2013

SOME GOOD FROM TAX SCANDAL: “A Democratic congressman said that he worries that the IRS scandal might have a chilling effect on the IRS and that they might be afraid to audit people. So finally some good is coming out of all of this.” — Jay Leno May 23, 2013

IRS’S VERY JOB IS TO VIOLATE LIBERTY:
Dr. Ron Paul“While it is important for Congress to investigate the most recent scandal and ensure all involved are held accountable, we cannot pretend that the problem is a few bad actors. The very purpose of the IRS is to transfer wealth from one group to another while violating our liberties in the process, thus the only way Congress can protect our freedoms is to repeal the income tax and shutter the doors of the IRS once and for all.” – Ron Paul, “The IRS’s Job Is To Violate Our Liberties,” Texas Straight Talk, May 20, 2013.

DON’T FUND AL-QAEDA: “We should not aid the allies of al-Qaeda in Syria, nor should we be giving weapons to radical extremists who might use them against Syria’s two million Christians.” — Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) arguing against arming Syrian rebel groups allied with Al-Qaeda. See ten-minute Senate video of Paul arguing this before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations here.

CUT GOV’T, END POVERTY: “The Feds spend almost 4 trillion dollars and most people have no clue about what to cut? Well, I have a few ideas. Who needs a Commerce Department? Commerce… just happens. The Education department? Department of Energy? Labor? Cut those too! If we cut government to the limited government the founders had in mind, poverty would become something so rare our kids would have to learn about it in history books.” — libertarian journalist John Stossel, “The Fight Over ‘Austerity,’” May 30, 2013.

Justice Antonin Scalia

SUPREME COURT SAYS NEVER MIND THAT PESKY FOURTH AMENDMENT: “The Fourth Amendment forbids searching a person for evidence of a crime when there is no basis for believing the person is guilty of the crime or is in possession of incriminating evidence. That prohibition is categorical and without exception; it lies at the very heart of the Fourth Amendment. … Make no mistake about it: As an entirely predictable consequence of today’s decision, your DNA can be taken and entered into a national DNA database if you are ever arrested, rightly or wrongly, and for whatever reason. …I doubt that the proud men who wrote the charter of our liberties would have been so eager to open their mouths for royal inspection. ” – Justice Antonin Scalia in his dissenting opinion in Maryland v. King, June 3, 2013. The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that police can collect DNA from people merely arrested, not convicted of a crime.

THE REAL PURPOSE OF GOV’T SCHOOLS: “The real purpose of public (i.e., government) schooling is to produce good little citizens who defer to the authority of the federal government. Through 12 years of regimentation within an army-lite structure, the minds of people are gradually molded from childhood to trustingly defer to the judgment of federal officials, especially when it comes to things like ‘national security.’” – Jacob G. Hornberger, President of the Future of Freedom Foundation, “An Example of Deference to Authority,” May 31, 2013.

JOBS, WHO NEEDS ‘EM: “President Obama gave the commencement address at Morehouse College over the weekend. Great speech, very inspiring. He told the young graduates their future is bright — unless, of course, they want jobs.” — Jay Leno May 21, 2013.